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When changing homes becomes a must

(ran TP)

Like most persons, I am most comfortable when I am at home in a familiar environment. Knowing that if I stand on the third step from the bottom it will squeak and let someone know I am home is important to me.

People become accustomed to their homes when they have lived in them for a long time. When faced with the possibility of having to leave, it is a difficult decision and one that can be very emotional. However, there are resources available to help make some of those decisions less traumatic.

You are fortunate if you have a support network that will allow you to stay in your home. But if you must consider moving, there are options available. Free lists on facilities in the Tampa Bay area are available. These facilities vary in options and are defined as follows:

Adult Living Facilities (ALFs, formerly called Adult Congregate Living Facilities) allow you the convenience of an apartment with services geared to your lifestyle needs.

Continuing Care Facilities start out as apartments you purchase with the understanding that when you are no longer capable of taking care of yourself they will relocate you to the next level of care within the complex.

Boarding Homes are a unique way to stay in a home environment and receive the help you need.

Subsidized Housing is similar to the ALFs except the government helps lower the monthly rental charges and makes the facility reasonably priced.

If you can stay at home but need to remodel or repair, there are programs available to help you. The programs vary depending on the location of your home (city or county) and the amount of services they can provide has much to do with your annual income. Renovations can include anything from wheelchair ramps to new floors or roofs and can be done in your home for free or at a reasonable cost.

Finally, there is the option of living with someone who has a home to share. Many persons have nice homes and want someone who can help with expenses and be capable of assisting with small tasks. There is a local agency that can help you find the perfect place to stay; for information call me at 248-5200.

If you do remain in a home environment, be sure to meet your neighbors. Communication is vital, keep in touch, be a "nosy neighbor" and don't be afraid to talk to your neighbors. If something goes wrong they should be there to help you in a time of trouble.

Teresa Hanna is the executive director of Older Adult Services Inc. (OASIS). OASIS is a non-profit organization that specializes in housing information for seniors in the Tampa Bay area as well as other direct services geared to the elderly.

This monthly column is provided by the Area Agency on Aging for Hillsborough County. It is written by local experts and members of the agency's board. For information on the Area Agency on Aging, call 623-2244.